DVD Review: A FRENCH VILLAGE/UN VILLAGE FRANÇAIS (Season 7, Series Finale, on MHz Releasing)

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by Dale Reynolds on March 14, 2019

in CD-DVD

À BIENTÔT

This brilliant series, set in a fictional south-eastern French village during and just after World War II, gives the patient viewer an extraordinary history from the Nazi invasion from 1940 to 1945: the day-to-day survival mechanisms the populace and police had to endure, and the effects of the Vichy government on turncoat French politicians.

The series finishes the myriad storylines of the characters we met in the first six episodes up to the revenge trials after the Allied victory: The Communist leadership of the labor unions; the madness that afflicts the wife, Hortense (Audrey Fleurot), of the town’s doctor, Daniel (Robin Renucci), on trial for his own collaborations with the German and French overlords); the unmasking of young Gustave (Maxim Driesen) for the murder of a grubby American soldier, who traffics in black-market materials; and the errors of the corrupt rulers who grew rich during the Occupation: Jeannine, a terrifically evil wife (played with great hauteur by Emmanuelle Bach) of sawmill owner, Raymond Schwartz (Thierry Godard) who publicly regrets the mistakes he made and now runs for mayor with the Gaullist Party.

Also included are the cries against our beloved school teacher, Lucienne (Marie Kremer), after almost killing her hated husband, Bériot (François Loriquet) — the principal of the local school — after finding out he had murdered her handsome lover, the gravely wounded German soldier, Kurt (Samuel Theis), and more.

The actors are certainly the icing on this long — fully detailed — series about the trials, hungers, tribulations, heartaches, triumphs, and deaths of these ordinary peoples put into impossible situations of survival and courage.  The storytelling is superlative, as is the acting, which bespeaks full training and intelligence, the sweet icing on a particularly nourishing (albeit gritty at times) cake. In addition to the leads already noted, some of my favorite discoveries were Constance Dollé as Susanne, a leader in the Communist resistance, Nicholas Gob as a caring and corrupt detective, whose girlfriend is, tragically, Jewish; veteran Patrick Descamps as Henry De Kervern, the detective’s boss; and dozens more, all particularly well-cast. (We can thank two shining casting directors: Okinawa Valérie Guerard and Emilie Chaumat.)

This final season takes us to 2003, with our surviving cast beautifully made-up as elderly, some of the best makeup and hair-styling artistry ever committed to film (executed by over 50 credited designers and workers); the full-artistry of this show defies words clever enough to well-acknowledge their mastery. We’ve been given seven seasons of undeniable value to Europeans (especially the French who lived through it) and also to us Americans, who can learn much about how to present, and learn from, living history of this caliber.

Unhappily, there’s no bonus testimonies which would fill us in on how the concept — almost completely unknown to American television — was funded, cast, written, directed, shot, etc. (There are 18 historical commentaries, six each at the end of seasons 1-3.) But, even without that info, the show speaks for itself, thanks to co-creator/writers Emmanuel Daucé, Frédéric Krivine, and Phillipe Tribot. I suggest that every high school, college, library and home should have this entire series. It’s so satisfying that you would not go wrong purchasing it for yourself.

photos courtesy of MHz

A French Village / Un village français
Season Seven — Series Finale
ITV Studios/MHz Choice Releasing
released February 13, 2018
3 DVD set | 351 minutes
available at MHz Releasing or Amazon

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Beth Nicholson May 1, 2019 at 6:45 pm

When do we get to see episodes 7-12 of season 7? When will they be available on disc?

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Tony Frankel May 7, 2019 at 4:53 pm

Hi Beth:

Episodes 67-72 make up the Final Season — they are not numbered 7-12.

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